Some people publish personal posts on LinkedIn pretty much daily. Others use it far more sparingly, perhaps to announce that they’ve started a new job. And then there are the altruistic types whose main motivation for going onto LinkedIn is to hand out likes. Which approach is best? What should young graduates be doing to make the most of what the platform has to offer? Social media expert and law graduate Elja Daae (1974) shares her tips.
1 Make it personal
LinkedIn started out as a fairly formal platform. All the posts were along the lines of ‘Jeffrey has found a job with X’ or ‘Jacqueline is looking for a new challenge’. But much has changed since then. ‘LinkedIn has followed Instagram’s pattern,’ Daae explains. ‘Today’s young professionals are far more casual. It’s perfectly acceptable these days to post a selfie of yourself and a colleague having coffee, or to write a personal blog about your first month in your new job. And let’s be honest: visiting LinkedIn is much more fun now than it used to be.’
2 Don’t be too modest
Some people are hesitant to post something on LinkedIn for fear of coming across as arrogant. ‘It’s against Dutch people’s nature to shout from the rooftops how good they are at what they do,’ Daae explains. ‘But look at it this way: when you log onto LinkedIn, you enjoy finding out what former fellow students are up to now, don’t you?’ The real question is, what should you share? Daae’s advice is not to set the bar too high. ‘Young people can feel that they don’t have much to say because they’re just starting out. But nobody expects you to present yourself as an expert. It’s fine to say that you’re busy gaining expertise. There’s always something interesting you can write about – that conference you’ve signed up for or that good book you’ve just read that’s relevant to your field of work.’
3 The altruistic approach
If you really don’t feel comfortable publishing posts yourself, you can always focus on helping others, suggests Daae. ‘LinkedIn can also be approached as a means of giving other people a leg-up. It’s very simple: every time you like someone’s post, you’re essentially sharing your network with them, because a number of your contacts will also get to see that person’s post.’ Tagging someone under a message – ‘Interesting for you, @Paul?’ – has the same effect.
4 Build your network, one connection at a time
If you’ve just landed a new job, you may feel less inclined to stay active on LinkedIn. But Daae recommends that you keep making connections. ‘Make a habit of adding every new colleague or conversation partner. The sooner you start, the fuller and richer your “card index box” will be when the time comes to make your next career move. I’ve been on LinkedIn for years now, and my network is made up of people I’ve got to know in all the different stages of my career. That’s really handy.’
5 Be creative but don’t overstretch the truth
Suppose you really want a climate-related job. Potential employers need to see at a glance that you are passionate about climate issues, advises Daae. ‘Make a habit of sharing interesting articles that you’ve read on a climate-related topic. Volunteer with an environmental organization so that you can position your voluntary work prominently in your profile, even if your paid job has nothing to do with the climate.’ In other words, make strategic choices when shaping your professional image. Make good use of the creative opportunities LinkedIn affords, but don’t overstretch the truth. ‘Never change your job title or insinuate that you still work for a certain company if you’ve actually already left. That can get you into trouble.’
6 Tread carefully when it comes to Covid and politics
Anyone who has been on LinkedIn in the last couple of years will undoubtedly have come across blogs about Covid-19 policy. Daae advises strongly against publishing posts on controversial topics. ‘A contact of mine has a senior position in a company that frequently hires top experts. One of those experts kept publishing very unsubtle responses to posts about Covid-19. My contact was so annoyed by this that she threw him out of her network. He’s not likely to get hired again. Is that fair? Maybe not, but that’s how it works: there are plenty of employers out there who don’t appreciate people voicing strong opinions about such sensitive topics. Only consider doing so if it’s genuinely in keeping with how you want to come across in your work.’
Elja Daae (1974) gained her degree in Law in 1999. She is the author of Super social and Bloggen als een pro and advises companies and government organizations on the use of social media. She is currently advising the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations.
Text: Dorien Vrieling
Source: Broerstraat 5
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